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What is to be an author? How much code does grant you authorship? #encirc13

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 09/12/2013 - 17:39

I signed up to take part of an online, massive course — «Arte y cultura en circulación: crear y compartir en tiempos digitales» (The circulation of arts and culture: Creating and sharing in digital times). As the activities of us the attendees are to be published by each on their personal blog/space, I will be publishing them here. I hope they are interesting to some of my other regular readers.

I am late in joining, and I should already be posting the second activity. Anyway, this text goes towards the first week's lesson: Qué es un autor: la (de)construcción histórica del concepto de autoría (What is an author? Historic (de)construction of the concept of authorship). Our homework is to find an example of a current discussion where the notion of authorship is discussed, and share it this way.

And I'm somewhat in a hurry right now, so this will be hasty. But I didn't want to delay my (late) submission anymore!

In the Debian Ruby mailing list, Hleb Valoshka asks basically how deep should copyright recognition be. Because, yes, while copyright attribution is simple (simpler, at least) in literary / artistic works, computer programs (and even more those developed following the Free Software distributed fashion) are harder to properly attribute.

Is a two-line patch to a tens-of-thousands-of-lines project enough to warrant mention in the copyright file? Most of us would agree it is not. Few would contend this were the amount of changes to make up, say, even 1% of that scale of project.

In the coding projects where I am the main author (which, yes, are usually very small — I cannot recognize myself as a good programmer, and the size of my successful works proves me), I try to take care to mention explicitly each of the contributors, even if their contribution is quite small. But were I to lead a larger development work, with enough following to generate on the order of one submitted patch a day, would it make sense for me to follow up with such detail the authorship information?

And as a minor side note: How much does the law require me? A very small patch can fix important functionality issues (think security or performance). If somebody sends a very small patch fixing an intellectually hard to grasp problem... I am sure it should be properly acknowledged!

Anyway, I have to flee now. I am just dropping some ideas on the table. Of course, if anybody is willing to discuss them further, I'm interested in any debate that springs off it!

(Meanwhile... I expect to spam you with this topic a couple of times. But it should not bug you much, as it's one of my usual blog topics!)

International Open Data Day - #OpenData / #DatosAbiertos

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 02/23/2013 - 23:38

I just got this message through my University, and the least I can do (given I'm still, although barely, in time) is to repost it here, hoping it helps to spread the activity we have on this regard in Latin America:

Saturday, February 23 is the International Day of Open Data. Following its policy of promoting free, open and unrestricted access to the results of research funded with public money, CLACSO calls research centers and individual researchers to free their public data so they are available for other researchers and, most importantly, for the community as a whole.

That's the reason CLACSO invites researchers and institutions to announce in social networks, mentioning "#DatosAbiertos #OpenData", which are their freed public documents, pointing to the web pages where they can be found.

The International Open Data Day is an effort to:

  • Spread the concept of Open Data
  • Debate on the why of Open Data
  • Publish analysis done using open public data
  • Find out how more local and national (not reserved) open data can be published (i.e. Brazil)
  • Call towards using open data in research
  • Find which applications have been developed to handle and visualize open data
  • Organize events for the International Open Data Day (i.e. Monterrey
  • Call towards adding data catalogs in Latin America and the Caribbeanin the Data catalogs directory, in, and in Open data census.

For further information on how to spread research and/or archives in digital repositories and in the CLACSO Digital Repository, please mail

We can between all contribute for the Latin American and Caribbean open data community to grow, democratizing access to public data about our societies.

So, what do I consider worthy of adding to a list of resources I can point to?

  • I am part of the team that set up and has worked on convincing the Economics Research Institute (my workplace) academic groups to publish their research results and products in our institutional repository under Open Access-friendly licenses (CC-BY-SA-NC and more liberal). We have published a wealth of economics-related information there; I must thank and single out Víctor Corona, who has been long working on the digitalization and re-publication of the institute's journals from the (at least) past three decades.
  • As the repository administrator, I am part of the RAD-UNAM (Red de Acervos Digitales, Digital Repositories Network) in our university. We administer at least 10 similar repositories in different institutes and faculties, and work on finding how to promote acceptance of open access ideas in UNAM's academic circles, and providing standards-based ways to share our work.
  • As part of my information gathering activities for the e-voting analysis work we have been doing, I have set up the E-Voting observatory in Latin America site, where I gather the news I find on the topic, flagged by several categories.
  • As for my personal work, although I am pretty young and little in formal academia, I publish most of I write in my personal webpage. Several different topics are at hand; of interest to this initiative, I think it's mostly the e-voting articles and presentations.

Becoming a teacher!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 11/30/2012 - 17:29

For many years, I have aspired being a university teacher. I remember asking at different universities as early as ten years ago — But I didn't have the needed papers. And yes, I have been a "Licenciado en Ingeniería en Software" for one year already.

Anyway, I won't go into the details on why I didn't do this earlier on. But this time, I did get my act together in time, and by mid October, I contacted Juan Carreón, an enthusiastic teacher I met a long time ago as he helped a lot for the formation and cohesion of the (now defunct?) LIDSOL group (Laboratorio de Investigación en Software Libre, Free Software Research Laboratory), a group of very worthy students, mostly from the Engineering careers.

Juan Carreón had long offered me help in getting to the right people in Facultad de Ingeniería as soon as I had my formal requirements ready. I just didn't expect it to be so swift! Within two days of my initial mail, he contacted me back asking me to look at the subjects in Computing Engineering and choosing some I would be willing to teach — Yes, understanding that due to my time (as I'm already full-time employed in UNAM) would allow me to take only one group.

Rush of excitement, of course. I promptly looked at the program, and answered with a list of 12 subjects I would be confident to teach. Next day I was contacted by the Chief of Computing Engineering Department, offering me to dictate the Operating Systems course. A subject that has always motivated me, and towards which I feel confident. A fifth semester course (from 9 semesters in the career), with around 30 students in the classroom.

And I'm very happy with this! Yes, this will be my first formal university course experience (either as a student or a teacher), and I'm quite nervous on how this will turn out. But I'm already reading again my books on the subject, starting to structure a set of teaching notes, and... Lets see what comes next!

So, I will be teaching this course starting January 28, three times a week for 1.5hr, for a formal theric total of 72 hours. We shall see how this results six months from today! :-D

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Rethinking copyright in the digital era: Dialogs on arts, regulation and culture availability — Museo del Chopo, Mexico City

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 09/28/2012 - 11:49

I was invited as a panelist for the Laboratorio «Repensar el derecho de autor y el derecho de copia en la era digital:
diálogo sobre artes, regulaciones y disponibilidad de la cultura»
at the beautiful Foro del Dinosaurio in the Museo del Chopo, located very centrally in Mexico City. The list of speakers is quite interesting, and makes me very interested and happy to be there.

The laboratory will be next week, Wednesday through Friday. I am scheduled to be part of the 17:00 table, Knowledge availability and regulation in Internet, coordinated by Pedro Mendizábal (Creative Commons Perú), and together with Juan Voutsás (Biblotecologic Research Institute, UNAM), Armida Aponte (Creative Commons México). The other topics that will be covered are:

  • Rights, technologies and commons
  • The culture and its industries in the digital age: What are the interests at stake?
  • Intelectual, cultural and scientific works: Open access or availability?
  • New business models around copyright-protected works
  • nowledge availability and regulation in Internet
  • Visual arts and copyright in the digital media
  • Open governments and citizenship: Information, data and intelectual works

Sadly, it does not seem they have planned for remote people to follow along. I will ask and update here if there is any way for people outside Mexico City to tune in — For people able to attend, it's free entrance (and certificates will be given to people pre-registered, if you are interested, call 5535-2288 ext. 123)

For further details on the participants, go to the laboratory's web page.

Update: The talks will be streamed!, via UStream.

Update About one year after this activity (which was very interesting!) I was contacted by the organizers. They will be publishing proceedings — Transcriptions of our participation! Yes, a transcription is never as easy to read as a text created as such, but I am very happy of this. I was sent a first version of my transcription, which I'm attaching here. It has several corrections to be made (which I asked them to do), but it's surely worth sharing!

Great online course available: «Securing Digital Democracy», by J. Alex Halderman

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 13:22

I was pointed at a great online course — If you are into e-voting analysis (or, more broadly, into democratic processes' history, evolution and future), I strongly suggest you to take a look at «Securing Digital Democracy». Just the name of the teacher should be enough to make it interesting: University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman, the guy who has analized/hacked several electronic booths, and one of the clearest, smartest voices to explain what should we require of a voting system and how electronic booths are the worst fit for any purpose.

The course is delivered through Coursera; I have found Coursera to be an effective, usable, unobtrusive platform — So much I even signed up for another course. I am not so happy with online courses requiring to wait so much between lessons, but after all, it tries to mimic what we see at "regular" (i.e. classroom) teaching settings. And, after all, we autodidacts are still a minority.

The course in question started ten days ago, but you can still perfectly join. Each week has two lessons, worth of approximately 40 minutes of video each, and are "graded" through a quiz. Lets see how this evolves.

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From DebCamp to DebConf through cheese, wine and an intro track

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/10/2012 - 02:16

One week. One long week. One beautiful week. One of the two major weeks of the year has passed since my previous post. Surely, we are in the middle of the two Major Weeks of the year, in the yearly schedule I have upheld for almost(!) ten years: DebConf+DebCamp.

Yesterday, DebConf officially started. For the first time ever, we had a DebConf track targetted at the local (for a wide definition of local: All of the Central American countries) communities, which I chaired.

We had the following talk lineup during this track:

  • Empaquetando software para Debian (Gunnar Wolf)
  • Introduction to Debian translation workflow and processes (Christian Perrier)
  • OpenPGP discussion and skillshare (Daniel Kahn Gillmor)
  • Empaquetando colaborativamente con git y collab-maint (Ulises Vitulli)
  • Uso del sistema de manejo de errores de Debian (Hector Colina)
  • Building free software communities (Leandro Gómez)

I believe it was a great success, and I hope the talks are useful in the future. They will be put online soon thanks to the tireless work of our work team.

Today we sadly lost the presence of our DPL due to very happy circumstances he will surely announce himself. But DebConf will continue nevertheless - And proof of that is our anual, great, fun and inviting Cheese and Wine Party!

After a series of organizational hiccups I hope nobody notices (oops, was I supposed not to say this?), today we had a beautiful, fun and most successful cheese and wine party, as we have had year after year since 2005.

As many other people, we did our humble contribution for this party to be the success it deserves.

There is lots of great cheeses, great wines, and much other great stuff we have to thank to each of the individuals who made this C&W party the success it was. Yes, it might be among the least-academic parts of our conference, but at the same time, it's one of its most cherished -and successful- traditions. And above all else, we have to thank our Great Leader^W^WCheeseMaster (who we still need to convince to play by our Great Leader's mandates - And no, I don't mean Zack here!)

Hugs and thanks to my good and dear friend Christian Perrier for giving form to one of DebConf's social traditions that makes it so unique, so different from every other academic or communitary conference I have ever been part of.

We still have most of the week to go. And if you are not in Managua (and are not coming soon), you can follow our activities following our video streams.

Remember, debian/rules, now more than ever! And even given the (perpetual) heat in Managua: Wheezy is frozen, whee!

[ all photos here taken by regina ]

Presenting our book

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/17/2012 - 18:58
Presenting our book

During the February 2012 presentation of our book, "Construcción Colaborativa del Conocimiento". Left to right: Max de Mendizábal, Irene Soria, Carlos Cruz, Gunnar Wolf, Alejandro Miranda

Presenting our book

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/17/2012 - 18:58
Presenting our book

During the February 2012 presentation of our book, "Construcción Colaborativa del Conocimiento". Left to right: Max de Mendizábal, Irene Soria, Carlos Cruz, Gunnar Wolf, Alejandro Miranda

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:43
In "Casa de Ondas"

Pooka (Alejandro Miranda), from EDUSOL

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:43
In "Casa de Ondas"

Pooka (Alejandro Miranda), from EDUSOL

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:42
In "Casa de Ondas"

The speakers from "666ismo crítico"

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:42
In "Casa de Ondas"

Waiting for the session to start

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:42
In "Casa de Ondas"

The speakers from "Naranjas de Hiroshima" and "666ismo crítico"

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:42
In "Casa de Ondas"

The hard-working hosts preparing the session

In "Casa de Ondas"

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/22/2012 - 11:42
In "Casa de Ondas"

Waiting for the session to start

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